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DC tunnel meant to reduce chronic flooding in Northeast officially in service

DC Water says the project will reduce flooding on Mount Olivet Road and Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast, like the August event that left 10 dogs dead.

WASHINGTON — The long-awaited completion of a tunnel project meant to control sewer overflow and reduce chronic flooding in parts of Northeast, D.C. was announced Friday. The announcement comes a little over a month after 10 dogs were killed in a flash flooding event inside District Dogs canine center. 

DC Water posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the Northeast Boundary Tunnel (NEBT) was complete as of Friday. The main purpose of the tunnel is to keep the Anacostia river clean but DC Water hopes it can also control some of the flooding on Mt. Olivet Road NE and Rhode Island Avenue.

"The tunnel and all related diversion facilities are in service!" the post read. 

The NEBT is 5 miles long, 23 feet in diameter and 100 feet deep. The project aims to update the District's century-old sewer system and improve water quality in the Anacostia River. It has been in the works five years, and was expected to be done by March. Several supply chain and pandemic related issues caused delays, according to DC Water. 

"[It] will provide 90 million gallons of storage to reduce flooding and combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia River," DC Water said on X

DC Water went on to explain that the new tunnel will connect to the existing Anacostia Tunnel built in 2018, which holds an additional 100 million gallons. 

"Combined that is enough to capture the rainfall from most storms, and we anticipate in an average year there will be no more than 2 overflows," DC Water posted on X in response to a user asking if the new tunnel's 90 million gallon capacity would be enough in a big rain storm. 

The NEBT project is expected to reduce flooding chances from 50% to 7% in the areas served, according to DC Water's website.

"I feel like it’s something they should have been taken care of long time ago," resident Bertrand Chepngeng said. "Hopefully it helps with the flooding. Every time it rains, there’s a lot of flooding. Hopefully it helps but we’ll see."

Following an August flooding event, Ward 5 Councilmember Zachary Parker sent a letter to DC Water requesting specific answers to what was being done to prevent future disasters during heavy storms, including an update on the completion of the NEBT and what the capacity of the new tunnel would be. 

"We must now contend with more severe weather due to climate change, but that doesn’t excuse our city from taking meaningful steps to keep residents safe," Parker wrote. 

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